KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Vols starting catcher Evan Russell is expected to be available to play in Tennessee’s game against Campbell tonight.
Russell was unavailable in the Vols’ opening game of the Knoxville Regional against Alabama State. Redshirt freshman Charlie Taylor caught in his place in UT’s 10-0 shutout over the Hornets.
Russell’s father, Jason, wrote on Twitter that Russell was dealing with “anxiety, stress, and pressure” and reiterated that he is clear to play today.
Russell’s absence on Friday “had nothing to do with any violation of the team, NCAA, or SEC rules,” according to a spokesperson. Comments regarding Russell were made on an ESPN broadcast of the Oklahoma State vs. Missouri State game that night insinuating Russell’s absence was connected to a failed drug test for performance-enhancing drugs. The broadcaster went on to say he would be suspended and the team would be tested.
A Tennessee spokesperson said ESPN was made aware of the comments made on national television and that the broadcast company is handling it. ESPN is also expected to release a public apology on the manner.
Tennessee Athletic Director Danny White said that he is thrilled for Russell to be back with the team but criticizes how his status was handled publicly.
“Sad that over the last 24 hours this young man has had to endure speculation and criticism,” wrote White on Twitter. “In the future, I hope that the media will prioritize the health of our student-athletes over unfounded rumors.”